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I’ve written a number of posts over the years discussing effective ways to practice and ideas for helping create better practice habits or reinvigorate a practice routine. With my students, I prefer to focus on the quality of practice over stressing a particular number of minutes or hours per day, but especially in our over-scheduled society and in cases where students are reluctant to practice, it can be helpful to have a specific amount of time to work towards. While 10 minutes of focused practice may be better than an hour of going through the motions without much care, the skills we can realistically accomplish in 10 minutes are nowhere near the strides a student consistently putting in significantly more time can make.

The chart below provides some suggested daily practice times for students based on age, playing level, and playing goals. Other factors which may impact these suggestions, either short term or long term, may be school, work, and family commitments, and the student’s health and ability to maintain good posture and form while practicing. Just like a marathon runner, stamina and focus build over time. We need to work up to longer practice times.

Daily Practice Time Suggestions:


Non-professional aspirations: Professional aspirations:
Age 2-4: 10 minutes Age 2-4: 30 minutes
Age 5-7: 20 minutes Age 5-7: 45 minutes
Age 8-12: 30 minutes Age 8-12: 1 hour
Age 13-18: 30+ minutes Age 13-18: 1.5+ hours
Adults: 30+ minutes Adults: 1.5+ hours


Non-professional aspirations: Professional aspirations:
Age 5-7: 30 minutes Age 5-7: 1 hour
Age 8-12: 45 minutes Age 8-12: 1+ hours
Age 13-18: 1+ hours Age 13-18: 1.5- 2 hours
Adults: 1+ hours Adults: 1.5 - 3 hours


Non-professional aspirations: Professional aspirations:
Age 5-7: 45 minutes Age 5-7: 1+ hours
Age 8-12: 1 hour Age 8-12: 1-2 hours
Age 13-18: 1.5+ hours Age 13-18: 1.5 - 3 hours
Adults: 1.5+ hours Adults: 2 - 4 hours

As you noticed in the chart, students aspiring to become professionals must put in significantly more practice time. Especially in the case of a young child, a student isn’t necessarily going to know if they want to perform professionally later on, but the amount of time a student is willing and able to spend practicing, even from the earliest beginning stages, is a good indicator of what their professional potential may be. My hope for students without professional aspirations is that they would at least reach a level where they can enjoy playing casually with friends and family, participate in community orchestras, join a local fiddle group or band, and might be hired to play at local events on occasion. There are many satisfying ways we can enjoy and share music besides as a soloist or member of a professional orchestra or chamber group.

From personal experience, I’ve noticed that an hour of practice each day can usually maintain the current playing level, while 1.5 hours is the minimum to see and hear significant progress. However, 2.5 - 3 hours of daily individual practice seems to be the real sweet spot, especially for teenagers and adults with professional aspirations. Although that still might require reprioritizing our lives a bit, it’s a reasonable amount of time for someone aspiring to a high level of playing ability to still be able to have a life outside of practicing. It’s also long enough for us to tackle a variety of scales, exercises, etudes, and solo and ensemble repertoire, while maintaining focus, posture, and good playing health. Of course, some weeks might include audition repertoire, new orchestra music, and other deadlines for learning new music. In these cases, 4-5 hours of practice daily may be necessary to properly prepare. It just comes with the territory.

I’ve always been suspicious of people who say they practice six, seven, or eight hours a day. Growing up I always wondered how anyone could possibly do that, between school running from 7:30am to 3pm, a couple hours of homework, meals, exercise, and sleep, 2 hours of violin practice was all I could possibly fit in regularly! But even if some are able to practice eight hours a day, I’m not sure if that amount of daily time is really necessary or healthy. Famous soloists Jascha Heifetz and Itzhak Perlman reportedly practice(d) 3 hours a day, and Leopold Auer, violinist, pedagogue, and the teacher of Heifetz, Nathan Milstein, and Mischa Elman among many other famous soloists, once said “practice with your fingers and you need all day. Practice with your mind and you will do as much in 1.5 hours.” Wise words!

Finally, to help us be mentally, physically, and emotionally prepared to make the most of our practice time, the suggestions are the same as any “get healthier” article - get at least 30 minutes of daily exercise, including some cardio as well as stretching; eat a healthy diet, including plenty of fresh veggies and fruits, whole grains; drink 8+ glasses of water daily; and get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Ways to clear your mind and focus are also on my list. I personally enjoy meditation, yoga, Qi-gong, and being out in nature. I find that when I’m centered and nourished in general, I can be the most effective and creative in my practice.

Best of luck and happy practicing!

Please email me at if you have a violin, viola, fiddle, music biz, or practice related question you’d like answered in the blog or on a podcast, have a story or insight to share, or if you’d like to inquire about violin, viola, or fiddle lessons with me, in-person or online via Skype, FaceTime, or Zoom.

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Laurel Thomsen

Violin, Viola, Vocals
Performance, Instruction, Recording

Based in Santa Cruz, California

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Photography by Michelle Magdalena
Skype: laurelthomsen

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